Navigating the Medical Equipment Planning Process
Planning a new healthcare facility is an exciting process – but it can be daunting as well – especially when it comes to medical equipment planning due in large part to the fact that the medical equipment budget is typically the second or third largest line item in a project’s budget, with construction cost being the first. An experienced medical equipment planning team can provide valuable insights to help ensure that the equipment selected meets both current and future needs, as well as help you get the most from your equipment capital expenditures.
Below find tips for helping your staff navigate the equipment planning process.
Bring the equipment planning team on early in the design process.
Ideally, your medical equipment planner should be hired concurrently with the architect, preferably in the Concept Design phase. If the medical equipment planner is brought in after Schematic Design has begun, time will be wasted with onboarding and bringing the equipment planners up to speed on key project parameters. In addition, nuances of previous design and equipment selections may be lost. And perhaps most importantly, it is critical that the design team and user groups understand the impact of size and electrical requirements prior to finalizing room sizes when changes become much more costly.
Develop your equipment budget early in the process. Bringing your medical equipment planner on early in the process allows everyone to be “on the same page” when it comes to the project budget. The equipment planner will work to align staff “wants” with their “needs” so that “must have” equipment is not sacrificed for items that would be nice to have. Every project has a defined budget, and the medical equipment planner can become and ambassador to your front-line staff – ensuring that strategic needs are met and fulfilling operational requirements – while remaining within the project’s financial parameters.
Properly define equipment planning parameters with all team members.
Prior to design, educate your user groups as to what medical equipment is, and conversely what it isn’t, as this can significantly impact the medical equipment budget. For example, some organizations consider chairs for the clinicians to be medical equipment, while others budget for it in the furniture budget. Some hospitals consider endoscopes to be equipment while others see it as a surgical instrument which again is accounted for in a different budget. By clearly defining what is included in the equipment budget, it ensures that budgets will be accurate, reduces potential for “double dipping”, and staff time is spent efficiently.
Review current and expected workflow and spaces with clinical staff / architects.
Ask your user groups to come prepared to initial meetings with information on what they like about how their current equipment enhances workflow and where there is room for improvement. When asked about their needs, many users respond based on their current workflow, but not the future workflow developed in the new space. Having equipment planners included in discussions about how the people and the equipment move about the unit informs the equipment selection process. It is important to allow front line clinical staff to be heard. They are the users of equipment and know the equipment better than anyone.
Invite the right people to the table.
Carefully consider who participates in the design and equipment planning meetings. Having too few people involved may mean that some important voices don’t get heard or get heard too late. Too many people involved can result in additional meetings, as it may be difficult to achieve consensus among such a large group. Try and strike the right balance between strategic thinkers and folks who are detailed oriented. Your equipment planner can help guide the discussion particularly where physician preferences intersect with medical equipment selections. A recommended list of participants includes: Department Director, Day-to-Day User, Architect, and Project Manager. As the meetings become more specifically related to equipment details for purchase, adding subject matter experts is required, (i.e. EVS, Biomed, Pharmacy, Lab, etc.).
By following the tips above, you can help make your staff’s participation in the design and medical equipment planning process more productive and ensure a more accurate equipment list and budget, and ultimately a successful project.